A Conversation with Namrata & Dharmesh Kothari of SYNA Jewels

Mogul Black Spinel Short Tassel Pendant with Rubellite

Mogul Black Spinel Short Tassel Pendant with Rubellite

Manjari Sihare of Saffronart in a tête-à-tête with Namrata & Dharmesh Kothari of SYNA Jewels

New York: To mark the holiday season, The Story by Saffronart presents a collection of exquisite Mogul jewelry by renowned US based jewelry design firm SYNA, founded by Namrata & Dharmesh Kothari. Well known for curating private label collections for some of the world’s most esteemed jewelry houses, Namrata and Dharmesh launched their own designer label, SYNA, in 2003. Now in its tenth year, SYNA has made its way into most high-end stores across the United States. The designer couple talk to us about the simple, classic and timeless creations of SYNA, the materials, their use of age-old inlay and carving techniques and more in this exclusive interview.

Q. Please tell us about your brand ‘SYNA’?

SYNA was born in 2003 and excels in exquisitely crafted, luxurious jewelry using colored gemstones.  SYNA means “together” It comes from synergy. The name relates to our desire to partner with people, be it our retailers, our vendors, our jewelers or our employees. We believe people can achieve great things by respecting each other and pooling their talents and resources.

Q. SYNA jewelry stands out for its use of semi-precious gemstones? Please elaborate on your choice of materials and the design philosophy?

Our design philosophy has always been to keep it simple. A piece should have only what is needed, nothing too much, and not less. You will not see pieces from SYNA with too much going on. We’re always always stripping a design to its core. We want to show the heart out instantly, and in it’s purest form, without losing its inherent character.

We believe in using the best of gemstones, which we source from all across the world. We collect roughs of various gemstones and cut the shapes we need as we want. We utilize complex methods to showcase jewelry in its simplest form possible, we never lose the inherent character of the stones, letting the natural beauty of gemstones take center stage. Everything is about achieving the most effective color display and combination. The silhouettes are classic yet striking and can complement a daytime denim or underscore a perfect little black dress. The simplicity of a SYNA piece with a twist of modern elegance is what keeps it timelessly fresh yet versatile.

Q. Do you manufacture SYNA jewelry in the United States? Tell us a little about your sourcing and manufacturing?  

We make our jewelry in the United States using the most skilled jewelers in the industry. We cut and polish our gemstones in India. And our colored stone roughs are sourced from all across the world. We’re always in the search of exotic new materials and gemstones. Being hands on right from sourcing the raw materials to the finished product, there is no compromising at any stage.

Q. Could you talk to us about SYNA’s ‘Mogul Collection’ featured on The Story?


SYNA’s Mother of Pearl Earrings in their signature design, the intricately latticed windows inspired by Mughal architecture

Like I said, our design philosophy has always been to keep it simple. We have taken intricate traditional Mughal shapes and extracted their purest forms and used them in our collections in simple, modern ways. Our signature & symbol is inspired by intricately latticed windows from Mughal palaces, effortlessly merged into a medallion. We proudly call it the Mogul. Our little signature identifies our roots and our design philosophy.

Being the heart of the SYNA brand are the Mogul Drops. The outer shape of the Mogul drops is inspired by the traditional red tilak, a Hindu symbol of victory,

success and good fortune placed on the forehead. We call them “Mogul” drops as they reflect the larger-than-life sizes (some even go to more than a hundred carats each). Our Mogul drops celebrate the culmination of Hindu and Mughal art influences in most architecture in India.


SYNA Mogul Drops

Little antiques, a child’s drawing, architecture, a landscape, door knobs, a memory , a word from a friend on the phone. There are always little things everywhere that gets us excited and thinking, be it during our travels or from our backyard. We love seeing how one inspiration fuses into another all the time.

Q. What are some of the key pieces in this collection and why do they stand out from everything else?

Our large Mogul Drops!! Each large drop is a over a 100 carats, cut to perfection and embellished with 18k yellow gold and diamonds. These can be adorned on vintage leather cords, blackened silver chains and 18k yellow gold chains (and even interchangeably). Each look transforms this simple classic piece into a versatile, chic style. We absolutely love the magic we see in the eyes of our clients when they wear these. The Mogul drops come in various sizes (large, medium and small) and in a lot of different stone species (amethyst, blue topaz, black spinel, rose quartz, blue chalcedony, moon quartz, citrine, lemon quartz, smoky quartz, rock crystal and more) embellished with 18k yellow gold and champagne and black diamonds.

Q. Please share the retail history of SYNA?

SYNA was born in 2003, when we came to the US. It’s been quite a joyride ever since, with some highs and some lows (and some serious bumps!!)  Our first collections were taken by the big names in the industry. It helped us survive the giant leap we took from India then. Today, the SYNA brand is showcased in most high-end retail stores nation-wide including Neiman Marcus & Mitchells family of stores. We choose only the best in the business in each location.

Q. Where do you see SYNA in the next 5-10 years

The last ten years have been our foundation years, long and significant. These years were also some of the most exciting years of our lives. In the next five years, we’ll see a lot of “distribution” magic within SYNA. We’re here since the last ten years, but we’re yet discovering new places. We’re still touring each city, still discovering new store locations, we’re still meeting people, people whom we will work for a life-time. We are growing each day and we’re loving every moment. The next decade will be the most crucial years for Syna, and hopefully they will be path-breaking.

 Q. What kind of buyers does the brand cater to?

Our clients are drawn to our pieces for the purity of color and elegance. They are compelled to touch the stones and get a feeling of spirituality. They love simple, sophisticated styling with an understanding of natural gemstones and appreciate fine quality.  

Q. Your recommendations to build a classic SYNA Collection

Mogul Amethyst dangling drop chain earrings with Rubellite

Mogul Amethyst dangling drop chain earrings with Rubellite

A large or medium Mogul drop on a vintage cord. Some Baubles rings and bracelets. Simple modern Paris cobblestone earrings and a little SYNA bold chakra charm pendant is a good way to start with. From there on, one can build the collection with additional drop colors & sizes (for layering) and some more Baubles colors (to add more combinations to your existing look) and more earring styles. One will be amazed to see how they can use the same piece to create different looks all the time. Usually, we meet up our clients at various events with their existing jewelry (their SYNA pieces and their other pieces) and we create their jewelry looks right away. They always leave the event surprised and awakened on how some colors do so much magic on them than the others. It’s amazing how nature gives us these gems with such potent color, each of them providing us with the opportunity to create beautiful color stories.

Baubles diamond pave stacking rings

Baubles diamond pave stacking rings

Exploring Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire at the British Library

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart in conversation with Malini Roy, curator of the current Mughal exhibition at the British Library, London

Mughal India Art, Culture and Empire, British Library, London

Mughal India Art, Culture and Empire, British Library, London

London: On display at the British Library until April 2013, ‘Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire’ celebrates the Mughal empire for the first time in its entirety, from its beginning to its eventual decline (1526-1858).

The exhibition, divided thematically, explores the rich cultural heritage the Mughals left  in the fields of art, architecture, literature and science, and it also celebrates the patrons that made these innovations and discoveries possible.

I had the pleasure of meeting Malini Roy at the British Library and asking her few questions about the exhibition.

Malini Roy, Curator of Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, British Library, London

Malini Roy, Curator of Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, British Library, London

Q: The exhibition Mughal India covers the entire Mughal period for the first time. Why did you decide to cover the entire period and not just focus on a certain aspect or time frame?

A: I decided to focus on the whole Mughal Period because no one really looks at the entire period. Also, my interest and research is on the late Mughal Period and I wanted to include it in this exhibition and the British Library has an extensive collection covering the entire period.

Q: How many works are on display? What is their provenance?

A: There are circa two-hundred works on display. Most of them are from the British Library Collection, the rest are from institutions and museums’ collections such as the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), the British Museum (London), the Royal Asiatic Society (London), the Bodleian Library (Oxford), the India Office Library Collection (London) and the Royal Collection (Windsor).

Q: What are the highlights of the exhibition? What is the most significant work for you?

A: There are many highlights of the exhibition [which you can enjoy in the slideshow at the end of the interview] so it is quite difficult to choose a few. Personally I really like “A Panorama of  Delhi by Mazhar ‘Ali Khan”. It is an impressive five meter long painting showing the Delhi panorama drawn from the view point of the Lahore Gate of the Red Fort. Also, the playful “Squirrels in a Plane Tree” is one of my favourite works.

A Panorama of Delhi by Mazhar 'Ali Khan. Image Credit: © The British Library Board

A Panorama of Delhi by Mazhar ‘Ali Khan. Image Credit: © The British Library Board

Squirrels in a plane tree. Image Credit: © The British Library Board

Squirrels in a plane tree. Image Credit: © The British Library Board

Q: At the beginning of the year the Ashmolean Museum presented ‘Visions of Mughal India: The collection of Howard Hodgkin’, and the Fondazione Roma Museo is currently showing: ‘Akbar: The Great Emperor of India’. Now the British Library is hosting ‘Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire’. It is evident that there is a great interest in Mughal India. What is your opinion on this?

A: The interest in Mughal art and culture has been constant. It is one of the most celebrated periods of Indian history. However the last exhibition dedicated to the entire Mughal Period dates 1982 and was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum: ‘The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule’. So we wanted to remind people of our collection of Mughal miniatures and show these fine works of art.

Q: To whom is this exhibition directed? How many visitors are you expecting? How has the response been so far?

A: Traditionally, British Library exhibitions attract traditional museum visitors. However we have had a quite diverse audience so far, many art and primary school students came to see the exhibition. The response has been very positive, we had very positive reviews from newspapers, art magazines  and the exhibition is listed as one of top exhibitions at the moment in London. And we are definitely meeting our target with an average of 360 visitors per day.

Q: What is the main message behind this exhibition?

A: I wanted to showcase the wonderful collection the British Library has and that people don’t know about and also celebrate some the greatest patrons of Indian art and architecture that created some of finest artworks which still witness their grandeur. Also since now the interest seems to be more on modern and contemporary Indian art I wanted to bring the Mughals back under the spot light.

Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire is definitely a must see if you are in London. The exhibition will make you experience traditional Mughal life during your visit and educate you through superb works of art.

More information on the exhibition can be found on the British Library website. Below you can enjoy a slideshow of highlights from the exhibition.

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Dr. Malini Roy is the Curator of Visual Arts at the British Library. Her field of research focuses on later Mughal painting and Company paintings produced during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in the provinces of Awadh and Bengal as well as at the Mughal capital of Delhi.


Poetry in Stone: Carved Screens from Sultanate and Mughal India

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart on ‘Red Stone’, a two-gallery exhibition of ancient Indian carvings in London

London: The Francesca Galloway and Sam Fogg galleries in London recently concluded a joint exhibition of exquisite Mughal perforated stone screens or ‘jalis’ titled ‘Red Stone: Indian stone carving from Sultante and Mughal India’.

Jalis were a very popular feature in Mughal buildings between the 16th and 18th centuries, mainly used to glorify imperial architecture, and were mostly produced in the Agra and Delhi areas of Northern India.  Jalis had the purpose of separating spaces within buildings to provide privacy, especially for the women of the court, as well as allowing the wind to circulate and dividing ‘divine spaces’ from ‘worldly’ ones.

A note accompanying the exhibition, which coincided with the celebration ‘Asian Art in London’, states, “According to Mughal political thought, a ruler was best represented by his buildings which became memorials to his fame. During the high period of Mughal art the imaginative designs of sandstone and marble jalis achieved a degree of sophistication and refinement not seen elsewhere. Jalis have a contemporary aesthetic which appeals to younger collectors, and have been used in museum installations at The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, The National Gallery of Australia, and the new Islamic Arts wing of the Louvre.”

The perforated stone screens on display in this joint exhibition most probably came from buildings in Agra and Delhi and were earlier part of a private English collection, housed in a country estate in Somerset. The collection includes jalis bearing highly detailed geometric, floral and vase patterns, as well as few frieze fragments from the late 12th and early 13th centuries inscribed with surahs and emblematic sentences from the Koran. All the pieces are carved in the distinctive red sandstone of Northern India.

More information on the exhibition can be found on a New York Times article and the Francesca Galloway and Sam Fogg websites.

Below you can enjoy a selection of the jalis from the exhibition.

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